March 21, 2008

Quote Mining

"Quote mining" is the practice of searching for and using frequently misleading quotes taken from large volumes of literature or speech in a nature that neglects context (see also "proof-texting" and "contextomy").

As the Internet plays a larger role in the finding of information, and information itself seems to increase with impossible rapidity, it might do well to talk about the use of sources both contemporary and historical. This issue has bearing on why I started this blog in the first place. On an LDS message board new discussions appear weekly stating something like this:

TruthSeeker123: I was just doing a little light reading last night and I discovered this interesting quote from Brigham Young...
GodIsOne: While reading my Book of Mormon the other day I saw a cross reference to a disturbing thing Heber C. Kimball said in the Journal of Discourses...
CoolMoeDee: Brigham Young was clearly a total racist! Check out this quote...[1]
Typically, the quotes are taken from seldom-read sources like the Journal of Discourses, Orson Pratt's The Seer, or an early edition of Bruce R. McConkie's Mormon Doctrine. The same 50-or-so quotes often appear strange, shocking, sexist or racist. They seem to be recycled on each anti-Mormon website and in books critical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Given anti-Mormon's and critic's penchant for citing the Journal of Discourses especially, I determined to read all 26 volumes to discover for myself if these strange quotes were common or obvious, as I hadn't heard them used in Church or seminary. At the outset I also read B.H. Roberts' Comprehensive History of the Church and Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton's The Mormon Experience, Arrington's Great Basin Kingdom, and other various essays on early church and American history, to provide the JD with some context.

I am currently in volume 4, and have been blogging my favorite selections as I go. I quickly realized the vast amount of time it would take to locate the various quotes used to criticize the Church. I call this work "quote mining." Picture a miner with his hard hat, head lamp, and pickaxe, heading down into a deep mine of rock then emerging with a few golden nuggets. When I began reading the JD I expected to encounter many more "nuggets" than I have thus far. What has stood out to me more are the vast majority of great quotes, in addition to more mundane moments, that quote miners overlook. I am left with the conclusion that most miners have one object in mind: to discredit the Church by finding any strange, salacious, or ill-advised comments and present them as though they represent the "secret truth" behind Mormonism.

Typically, those who cite JD and other rarely-read works have never actually cracked a look at the sources themselves. Instead, they use the same quotes that miners long before chipped away from the bedrock. Quote mining pioneers such as Gerald and Sandra Tanner have provided a nice cache from which new miners can easily pick out a few precious nuggets, presenting them as their own special discoveries. Much effort has gone into culling quotes from the records of the Church, though considerably much less effort is made by those merely searching for "sound bite" criticism and quick accusations. These little quote nuggets are topically listed in rapid succession to shock; isolated quotes with literally thousands of pages between them thought to make a decisive and damning case against Mormonism.

Sometimes, unsuspecting members of the Church are rankled by these golden discoveries. Upon further inspection of the nuggets, however, the quote miner has often emerged with nothing more than iron pyrite. Here's an example of what I mean by quote mining: Suppose you encounter an agnostic or atheist who decries Christianity as violent, oppressive and evil. You may deny this characterization but the opposition has proof: a quote from Jesus Himself. Jesus a militant zealot? Check out this quote, they say, from the so-called "Prince of Peace":
But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:33-34)
Suppose this quote is used over and over again on websites and in books and even coupled with instances of contemporary Christians committing violent acts. Or added to the quote is this juicy tidbit:
Sources close to Jesus say his disciples were constantly toting swords. In a moment of anger and without warning, one of them even sliced off the ear of an innocent man named Malchus in the dark! (see John 18:10).
The quote miner is the critic compiling and presenting data. The mine is the Bible and other sources such as newspapers which may account Christian misbehavior. The nuggets are the verses and instances of violent Christians. Is this an accurate portrayal of the data? Is it a fair representation Jesus and Christianity? Technically, the quote about peace and a sword is lifted straight from the Bible; the data is "true." It appears the disciples did carry swords at times. Simon Peter did cut off the ear of Malchus. Some Christians do commit violent acts. However, I believe overall this portrayal of Christianity disregards too much information; it is irresponsible, lacks context, and is presented to shock. Trying to convince the critic, however, will prove difficult. They feel their evidence is an open and shut case.

Much can be said about "that noble dream" of objectivity in dealing with history (see, for example, That Noble Dream by Peter Novick). While touching only slightly on the notion of objectivity, I would like to approach the topic as an appeal to the concepts of fairness and motive. First, a word about sources.  

Primary Sources
Much of our historical knowledge comes from shadows of the past found in journal entries, personal letters, news accounts, etc. We can search these records, extract what we think are the important or interesting aspects of them, and create a picture of what history might have been like. Primary sources are defined by Historian Mary Lynn Rampolla as "materials produced by people or groups directly involved in the event or topic under consideration" (A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 2001, 4.) A "modern" view of history believes that the historian merely "discovers" the facts and presents them as they are; the facts "speak for themselves." The historian sheds prejudice and point of view and allows the evidence to tell the story. A "post-modern" view of history holds that one cannot be truly purged of all values and prejudices; sources and evidence pass through filters of our own understanding, and that different and valid interpretations can emerge from the exact same data. A post-modern view in some way allows for other interpretations. How should primary sources like the JD or statements from early Christian fathers be presented?  

Using Sources
In presenting primary sources, selection must be made. One obviously cannot present all 26 volumes of the JD in order to explain Brigham Young's feelings on irrigation, for example; some selection is required. One would have to read and discover instances within the volumes where Brigham mentions irrigation to provide specific examples. This can be a time consuming endeavor. However, it is only fair to make an attempt to discover as much information about a source as possible before trying to use it as evidence to establish a case. There are many different methods of analyzing, understanding, or presenting sources responsibly. One method I discovered is represented by the acronym "PAPER." The creator of the acronym stated:
Reading primary sources requires that you use your historical imagination. This process is all about your willingness and ability to ask questions of the material, imagine possible answers, and explain your reasoning.[2]
One method is called the "6 C's" which are said to give a reader a "guided tour" of primary sources:

  • Content: -What is the main idea? -For documents, list important points/phrases/words/sentences. -For images, describe what you see.
  • Citation: -Who created this and when? -What type of source is it?
  • Communication: -What is the author’s bias or point of view? -Who is the intended audience? -Why was the source created? -What is the tone of the document or image?
  • Context: -What is going on in the world, country, region, or locality when this was created? -What other sources (primary or secondary) might help provide answers to this question? -What else do we need to know to better understand the evidence in this source?
  • Connections: -How does this connect to what you already know?
  • Conclusions: -What contributions does this make to our understanding of history? -How did you come to these conclusions? -How does this document help answer your initial, essential, or research question?[3]
Using methods like these can help overcome some of the weaknesses in interpreting or citing sources. It should be added that "secondary sources" are also often used by writers. These are sources written by second-hand people, or sources which restate primary sources, such as newspaper reports or history books quoting a primary source, or even this blog, which uses quotations from the JD, etc. Primary sources are more desirable in most cases because they have not passed through the "interpretive lens" of a reader before being presented. In all cases, the sources should be analyzed to prevent misquotation or misrepresentation. Either kind of source can be skewed based on how a reader presents a source.

Presenting sources involves understanding differences between"fact" and "interpretation." In other words, a document might say:
I went to the Barbershop at noon, Thursday, March 21 and the Barber, Mr. Jones, was quite rude.
We can try to establish the "facts": that the document was written by the person in question, whether there is evidence that a barbershop existed or that the writer was there on the specified day, etc. But we still have to make a judgment based on faith in many regards when dealing with the source. Was the source reliable? Was there a reason they might have been mistaken about the date or anything else? Does the account agree with other accounts? Was the Barber really rude? How? etc. Other questions ought to be asked. Who wrote the account? Is it a firsthand report? How long after the occurrence was it written? For what purpose? and more. This is because a source generally represents one person's view on any given event.[4]  

Using Sources on this Message Board
One rule of the LDS message board on which I often post is the "CFR," or "call for references" rule. If someone claims that "Brigham Young said such-and-such," they are required (when asked) to provide documentation of the source. If this is not provided, the statement must be withdrawn. Transparency in motive is also important when one desires to be viewed as credible when posting quotes online (though transparency is not necessarily regarded as neccessary in professionally published works.) Quote miners "discover" quotes and sometimes present them in "innocent" ways. It is better to be clear about your reason for using a source, where you discovered it, and what you believe the source indicates. For example: my JD blog is transparently dedicated to provide uplifting, interesting, and more "faith-promoting" information from the JD than it is to dissecting the more strange selections, though I do discuss those as well. I provide detailed information on all the sources I use.  

My purpose in this post is to establish the background for my argument against quote mining. I have directed much of my words to quote-mining critics of the Church, but the same thoughts ought to be considered by members of the Church and any others who use sources for whatever reason, whether it be in preparing a talk or Sunday school lesson, or arguing about politics, or whatever. When I use sources here I try to make an honest effort to research and understand them before using them to try to prove a point. I try to present them in their proper context as well as applying them to my outlook in the present. Nephi encouraged us to "liken all scriptures unto us" (1 Nephi 19:23), but this shouldn't be a license to use any point of view from any time period without at least footnoting more about the context of the source. Additionally, I always provide citations when possible. As I note at the bottom of this blog, the views I express are my own and do not represent official doctrine of the Church in and of themselves, though I believe I often cite "official doctrine." I encourage readers to learn more about this topic; the News Room commentary section has many valuable and recent statements on this subject. See, for example, "Approaching Mormon Doctrine" and "Positioning Church Doctrine: How Mormons See Themselves."

In closing, I offer a quote from Brigham Young. He was aware that newspapers in the eastern part of the United States had been printing articles regarding Brigham Young as an unruly tyrant, unwilling to concede power to the authority of the United States. Some of his comments could be construed to indicate such, but Brigham understood some of the implications of his words:
In my conversation, I shall talk and act as I please. Still I am always aware, when speaking in public, that there are those present who are disposed to find fault with this people, and to try to raise a prejudice against them; and they will pick up isolated words and sentences, and put them together to suit themselves, and send forth a garbled version to prejudice the world against us.
Such a course I never care anything about; for I have frequently said, spoken words are but wind, and when they are spoken are gone; consequently I take liberties in speaking which I do not allow when I commit my sentiments to writing (JD 2:179).
Spoken words may be like "wind," but they can blow around for years to come.  


Ironically, one such poster on the message board used the screen name "fourty-niner." 

  • Purpose of the author in preparing the document
  • Argument and strategy she or he uses to achieve those goals
  • Presuppositions and values (in the text, and our own)
  • Epistemology (evaluating truth content)
  • Relate to other texts (compare and contrast)
For more specifics on using this approach, see "How to Read a Primary Source," Reading, Writing, and Researching for History: A Guide for College Students, Patrick Rael. 
See "Primary Source Analysis and the 6 C’s," Teaching American History Summer Program 2007, The UC Irvine History Project. This article was specifically dealing with visual sources such as art. 

For more, see "Reading and Writing about Primary Sources," History Writing Resource Center, The College of William and Mary.

March 19, 2008

Can We Hasten or Delay the Second Coming?

Parley P. Pratt June 29, 1856 Can the world affect the timing of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Can the Latter-day Saints, through righteousness, hasten that great millennial day, or through wickedness cause God to bring down the curtain on an awful scene? A plain answer from explains:

At the beginning of the Millennial Era, Christ will return to the earth. This event will mark the end of the mortal probation of this earth. The wicked will be removed from the earth and the righteous will be caught up in a cloud while the earth is cleansed. While no man knows exactly when Christ will come for the second time, he has given us signs to watch for that indicate the time is drawing near (Guide to the Scriptures, "Second Coming of Jesus Christ,"
So a few basics include the righteous being caught up, the wicked being removed, and the earth being cleansed. Christ will then reign. We have been given signs to watch for, but no date.[1] One Latter-day Saint referred me to the Pearl of Great Price, which contains the words of the Lord to Enoch:
60 And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah; 61 And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; 62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem. 63 And the Lord said unto Enoch: Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other; 64 And there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion, which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made; and for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest. 65 And it came to pass that Enoch saw the day of the coming of the Son of Man, in the last days, to dwell on the earth in righteousness for the space of a thousand years; 66 But before that day he saw great tribulations among the wicked; and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled, and men’s hearts failing them, looking forth with fear for the judgments of the Almighty God, which should come upon the wicked. 67 And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world...(Moses 7:60-67).
This scripture envisions a city of Zion built below and a city of Zion from above meeting at the millennium. Does this mean the early Saints, had they completed the temple in Missouri and built up the New Jerusalem, could have ushered in the Millennium then? Parley encouraged the Saints to prepare for this meeting of Zions. Do his words indicate the timetable can be effected by our actions? He speaks of keys that need restoring before that day:
We should prepare for the ministration and society of the pure in heart, for they are preparing to meet the people down here. And I know not but that some among us are looking for the Lord Jesus Christ to appear very shortly with all his Saints and angels publicly. Well, I am looking for it too, but it is not the first thing that I am looking for, but I am looking for it when all things are ready, and when all things are prepared, so that when coming he will not break one jot nor tittle of the prophecies, but they will all be fulfilled in their time and place. If the coming of the Savior is the next thing in order, I consider that it would become all of us, so imperfect, so unprepared, so far from being perfectly united in righteousness, to become sanctified and made ready for his appearance. There will be people on the earth that will be ready when he does come, and how will it be at his coming? There are a great many that stand between us and Jesus Christ, and who stand in more immediate relationship to this work, and also to us. There is our leader, and many others that are leaders, and who hold the keys, and who have gone before us; and they stand between us and Jesus Christ, they hold keys between him and us, and then again there are others of the former-day Saints, such as Peter, James and John, and they hold keys which are ahead of our leaders that are dead, our Prophet, for instance? Yes, they hold keys between him and Jesus. Here we all see that we have only got a portion of the Priesthood and the keys, the others are in the possession of the congregations of Saints in the heavens, and before we are prepared to be ministered to by them and enjoy their society, we must alter considerably. Some say, "why, the coming of the Lord is nearer than some of you suppose." Well, I would not wonder if it was further off than some of you suppose, from the fact of the things that have to be accomplished.
Many things remain to be accomplished, to be sure. Countless books, sermons, seminars and websites have been created discussing the signs of the times.[2] In the LDS community there have been different schools of thought on the subject, but it seems the partly line today holds to the view expressed by Bruce R. McConkie (not that he originated it, but I use his example because it is readily available):
Our Blessed Lord will come at the appointed time. The great conference at Adam-ondi-Ahman will assemble to worship the King on schedule... As we have seen, many of the events incident to the Second Coming will take place during the close of the sixth seal and others after the opening of the seventh seal. And yet the formal beginning of the Millennium will take place at a fixed and determined and set moment. It cannot be hastened by righteousness nor delayed by wickedness. The old Earth will die, and the new heaven and the new Earth will be born at as exact an instant as is the case with the birth or death of any form of life. We speak thus so there will be no confusion or misunderstanding when we also say that the full glory and wonder of the millennial day will unfold gradually; that there will be wicked men on earth after the Millennium has commenced; and that the final glory and triumph of Israel will take place gradually after the Millennium itself has been ushered in (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, p. 649).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks was slightly more vague:
While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us (Dallin H. Oaks, “Preparation for the Second Coming,” Ensign, May 2004, 7. This is an interesting and, I believe, important take from a current apostle of the Lord).
Whether or not we affect the actual time table, Parley believed we have things to do in order to fulfill certain signs of the times. Ultimately, we all must prepare fore that "great and terrible day":
If we were to say that before the coming of the Lord many great things await us, and that we are to be prepared for all the changes which have to take place, and that they are nearer at hand than we would imagine them to be; and if we should say that that event was much nearer than many of us suppose, and that we have already received many warnings, most certainly we ought to prepare to receive greater covenants, to become more closely acquainted with the Spirit of God, to be more perfect in union, to know how to act more in concert, to overcome our weaknesses and errors of judgment, and ignorance and follies, learn to be happy and to come up to the mark, and be sanctified before the Lord, that peradventure some portion of the keys and powers from the eternal world may be more fully bestowed upon us, that we may be prepared by gradual experience from time to time, that we may progress in the science and plan of salvation, and be prepared for the greater things that await us. I will not complain of our deficiencies for we have to be satisfied with the things which we have accomplished, but we have full confidence in the union and power that attends this work. It is for us to prepare ourselves and to repent of all our errors, and follow our leaders until we reach celestial glory.
Does this mean we can reach Celestial glory before the millennium by our own actions? Theoretically I suppose it's possible; the City of Enoch accomplished such. However, I am not sure the scriptural record including the signs of the times necessarily points to another City of Enoch-like experience prior to the Second Coming. Pratt continues:
The powers of heaven are neither ashamed nor afraid, but they have confidence in us and will dwell in our society. There are a great many keys, and manifestations, and preparations, and associations between us and that great and perfect day, when the Lord will come in the power of heaven. Let us all do our duty, and be faithful to our covenants (JD 4:14-15).
Christ will come again as a "thief in the night," though signs of the times will point to His coming for those who are aware. Regardless of whether we can speed up the process, no matter who you cite as a reference, all seem to be agreed that Saints ought to "stand in holy places" and "watch," "for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 25:13, see also D&C 45). As Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained:
"Our task is to react and to notice without overreacting, to let life go forward without slipping into the heedlessness of those in the days of Noah. ….. To ponder signs without becoming paranoid, to be aware without frantically matching current events with expectations, using energy that should be spent in other ways--these are our tasks." (Neal A. Maxwell, For the Power is in Them, 20).
Footnotes: [1] It should be noted that Joseph Smith taught even some righteous would be subject to end of time calamities. He “explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape;’ still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged’” (see History of the Church, 4:11). [2] A relatively comprehensive look at current Millennial expectations is on the blog LDSLastDays. For a look at how millennium expectations fueled early Saints only to become a less immediate expectation, see Grant Underwood, The Millenarian World of Early Mormonism, University of Illinois Press, 1999.

March 17, 2008

Priesthood: "The chain that reaches from heaven to earth"

Heber C. Kimball
June 29, 1856

Some quotes from the Journal of Discourses have become regular proof-texts for critics of the Church. These quotes are found on most "anti-Mormon" or otherwise critical websites. This quote from Brigham Young, October 9, 1859, is one of the favorites:

No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith...He reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim—“Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!” But it is true (JD 7:289).
Indeed, people find it very disagreeable. They find it even more disagreeable when it is coupled with this April 8, 1844 quote from Joseph Smith:

God made Aaron to be the mouth piece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be a god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it (DHC 6:318-320).
This concept, as Joseph implies, has Biblical precedence, and ought not shock Latter-day Saints. Joseph refers to Exodus 7, putting himself in the place of Moses, and the elders of the Church in the place of Aaron:

So the LORD said to Moses: See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet (Exodus 7:1).
Lest anyone explain this correlation away as an "Old Testament" phenomenon, there is further precedence regarding the "permission" of Joseph Smith and the afterlife found in the New Testament. First, though, we'll see how Heber C. Kimball's sermons ties into this.

The early Saints (and many today) viewed the chain of Priesthood as extending from God, through the apostles, through Joseph Smith, through the Church.

Heber C. Kimball described the priesthood as a great chain leading to God:

This is my place and my calling, and this is my wish and the wish of brother Jedediah, of brother Amasa, of brother Parley, and of every other Apostle that God has appointed and called upon this earth, or ever will while we remain here.[1]

It is for brother Brigham to do the will of Joseph, and for Joseph to do the will of Peter, for Peter to do the will of Jesus, and for Jesus to do the will of his Father. That is the chain that reaches from heaven to earth, and do you not understand that it is so?
If you will keep hold of that chain and keep your hands strongly fastened in the links, you can reach into the vail [sic].

But you must hold on firm and fast to the cable-why?
Because there is an anchor at the end of the cable, and that cable is fastened to the ship so that it is made sure at both ends. That is the way it is in a ship, and it is so with the kingdom of God.
Heber believed Brigham Young, their current leader, would remain a prophet to them in the eternities:
My feelings are for you to learn to follow our leader, our Prophet, our President. He will be our President in eternity, and Joseph is his President and will counsel him, and you need not trouble yourselves, but do as you are told and you will obtain salvation and go into the celestial glory.

You will then dwell in the same glory with Joseph, with father Smith, with the Apostles and Saints; and by taking such a course not one of you will fall, and I know it.
As found in the New Testament, Christ also taught Priesthood authority would extend into the "eternity", at least as far as the judgment was concerned:

Then answered Peter and said unto [Jesus], Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27-28; see also Luke 22:28-30).
When Christ visited the Americas and called twelve disciples, he bestowed similar authority (this account is from Nephi's vision of future Nephite generations):

And [the angel] said unto me: Thou rememberest the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb? Behold they are they who shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel; wherefore, the twelve ministers of thy seed shall be judged of them; for ye are of the house of Israel.

And these twelve ministers whom thou beholdest shall judge thy seed. And, behold, they are righteous forever; for because of their faith in the Lamb of God their garments are made white in his blood (1 Ne. 12:9-10).
In light of these verse, the Gospel Principles manual says:

The Apostle John taught that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). The Son, in turn, will call upon others to assist in the Judgment.

The Twelve who were with him in his ministry will judge the twelve tribes of Israel (see Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). The Nephite Twelve will judge the Nephite and Lamanite people (see 1 Nephi 12:9–10; Mormon 3:18–19).

President John Taylor said the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles in our own dispensation will also judge us (see The Mediation and Atonement, p. 157;
Gospel PrinciplesChapter 46: The Last Judgment,” 294).
Peter standing at the "Pearly Gates" admitting souls into heaven has become something of a cultural stock character. I believe this has roots in the New Testament account of Christ giving the "keys of the kingdom of Heaven" to Peter in Matthew 16:19.

I am unsure if the selection from Gospel Principles indicates that Joseph Smith, the first prophet of our dispensation, will be in the position of "Peter at the gates" for us, or if a prophet who presides during our own lifetime would fill that role. I suspect the former. The manual is also ambiguous in stating the apostles who were with Christ during His mortal ministry will judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Is this limited to the twelve tribes living at the time, or all of those adopted into the house of Israel from the beginning until the end?

At any rate, I believe the concept of Priesthood holders assisting somehow in the final judgment has sufficient Biblical precedence to allow for the comments of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball on the subject; though I am unsure of the exact nature of priesthood involvement.



Kimball is naming current apostles, Jedediah M. Grant, Amasa Lyman, Parley P. Pratt.

Thanks to "Casslan" from for some of these references.Also see JD 5:331.

On the authority of prophets in our time, see He That Receiveth You Receiveth Me.